Jess Edberg, information services director — International Wolf Center , 05/11/2012
On May 3, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a controversial game and fish bill into law. House File 2171 (see link below) formally initiates the process for developing an annual state wolf hunting and trapping season to begin fall 2012.
Minnesota’s wolf management plan was developed in the late-1990s through an extensive public input process, which included a roundtable committee consisting of representatives from various interest groups. The wolf roundtable met over several months and provided the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with consensus recommendations on managing wolves based on public input that addressed both biological and social factors related to sustaining a recovered wolf population.
Last summer, legislation aimed at a clause in the original wolf bill that authorized the DNR to consider public taking (hunting and trapping seasons) no sooner than five years after delisting was passed. As a result, the five-year moratorium on any wolf harvest was removed from the language of the state’s wolf management plan.
Dan Stark, wolf specialist for the DNR, commented that prior to last year’s change, the DNR would have had five years following delisting of the gray wolf to think about how to proceed with a wolf season and whether a season would be in the best interest of wolves and people in Minnesota.
“Last summer’s legislation did not necessarily change the way we would determine if Minnesota should have a wolf harvest; it allowed us to begin the decision-making process earlier,” stated Stark. However, this month’s legislation is a directive to implement a season this fall.
When the original wolf management plan was passed, the state’s wolf population was an estimated 2,500, and it was believed that wolves would be delisted in the near future. The most recent population survey, completed in 2008, estimated about 3,000 wolves in Minnesota and indicated no significant change in the number or distribution of wolves over the last 10 years.
However, some interested individuals and groups have expressed concern over the rapid transition from federal protection to regulated harvest, which has also happened in Montana and Idaho and is slated to begin in Wisconsin as well.
Below are the details of H.F. 2171 that relate to wolves:
- Wolf license fees are established at $30 for a resident firearm license, $250 for a non-resident, and $30 for a trapping license, not available to non-residents.
- License fees will be credited to a wolf management and monitoring account to be used only for wolf management, research, damage control, enforcement and education.
- Wolves may be killed with legal firearms, with bow and arrow and by trapping.
- Wolf hunting will begin each year on the same day as the opening of the firearms deer-hunting season (typically the first Saturday of November).
- Hunting of wolves may only occur one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset (the same as firearm deer hunting).
- The DNR commissioner will determine the number of wolves taken, open areas for hunting and number of hunters and trappers. Current DNR plans include issuance of 6,000 wolf-taking licenses and a quota of 400 wolves.
- A $4 application fee and proof that the applicant holds a current or previous-year hunting license will be required to apply for a wolf license (one per person per year); application fees to be applied to the wolf management and monitoring account.
- A predator control program, including training, will be implemented to address verified wolf depredation on livestock.
- Predator controllers will be reimbursed an amount determined by the commissioner.
- The person taking the wolf must present the whole carcass of each wolf, with pelt removed, to a state wildlife manager designee for registration before the pelt is sold and/or transported out of the state.
- The commissioner can require the entire carcass or samples from the carcass to be surrendered to the state.
- Restitution value for wolves is $500.
- Snares can be used for wolf trapping and must comply with a defined structure and designated locations.